It's no secret that I'm easily distracted by interesting details while on assignment. My guides and reporters find this charming, I think (hope). Here's a recent outtake from a shoot at Apache, a Cedar Rapids-based company specializing in fabricated belting and hoses.


Helmick's jury

While touring the new US District Courthouse in Cedar Rapids a few weeks ago, a sculpture installation by Ralph Helmick in the atrium caught my eye. The silhouettes of 12 Iowans, the number on a jury, are represented in the piece. I've covered the building's progress from the ground up, including photographing local painter Fred Easker before he'd even begun working on his paintings for the new space. More photos and the story here.

The birds

While loading up the car to head back to Texas for Thanksgiving, I was briefly distracted by a huge flock of crows that were circling overhead. It's a common sight around here once it gets cold, but it never fails to creep me out. 



While covering presidential candidates is nothing new to most photographers working in a swing state, we don’t usually cover both candidates in one day. So, this Saturday’s rallies in Dubuque were a unique challenge to photograph each candidate in a balanced way for both the print edition and online galleries. ”Obamney” seemed a fitting name for the day’s adventures, and I took to calling the local media work area “Obamneyville.” Some similarities are inevitable at campaign events like these, even when the degree of access is pretty different, so I’ve put together a series of diptychs from the day’s coverage, over on reFocus.


Obama, from the front row (and the back)

For those who missed the grand announcement earlier this year, I've been blogging over at the Gazette's staff blog, reFocus. Click through to read a little behind-the-scenes of covering Presidential campaign visits, and view a gallery of Obama's recent visit to Cornell College.


After the game

Usually after a long day of football, the last thing I want to do is take more photos. (The first thing is generally food+cable tv at the hotel.) But we just got new cameras (bright shiny 1Dxs for everyone!), and what better way to test it out then to wander a strange college campus late at night? The first photo is the same scene photographed 12 hours earlier in the previous post.

(Technical note: I'm still running CS4, which doesn't seem to have RAW updates for this camera yet, so these were all shot jpg and barely edited for this post. I can't wait to see what this camera can do once I get upgraded to CS6/Lightroom...)


Top of Iowa, from the passenger seat

Eastern time

When you fail to account for a time zone difference, and arrive at the stadium an hour early (well before any fans)...



“You don’t tell. I broke the rules; I told,” Brigid said. “And that is why a lot of women don’t come forward — because it was your fault anyway. What did you expect when you put on those boots? What did you expect? You want to play in a man’s world, well, you’re going to have to play with the men.” Continue reading about these incredible women, and our portrait collaboration, on reFocus.



Just after I visited Kevin Heiserman’s Rowley farm for a story on how the drought is affecting Iowa cattle farmers, new national cattle numbers were released showing the country’s cattle count at a four-decade low. The cows were a little skittish around the stranger with the camera, so I backed off for a few minutes until I could slowly approach again, positioning myself low to the ground near a mound of hay. To see more photos head over to reFocus.. 


Never a wasted trip

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived  in Viola for a tour of the old school, which should soon be the home for the Stone City Art Institute and would be hosting Viola’s RAGBRAI stop. A mixup with our contact left us without inside access, so instead I wandered the grounds, which were still plenty interesting. Check out Steve Gravelle’s story on the future plans for the historic school, and click through to reFocus to see more photos.


Eye in the sky

“How are you with flying?”
It’s a question we’ve all been asked, so I know it comes with a chance to shoot from, probably, a small plane, or maybe a helicopter. I already know to expect a bumpy flight; the plane lifts and drops at pockets of hot air. But aside from the usual flight turbulence, there’s an extra dose of nausea from looking through the viewfinder while moving.
So of course I reply with, “Oooh, where am I going?”


Wandering eye

Even after a long day of work, it’s hard to shut down the photo-seeking part of my brain. Continue reading on reFocus... 


Fourth finale

While the rest of the city (and country) is grilling and enjoying a day off, we still have to put out a paper, and this year I volunteered for the July 4th shift. Here in Cedar Rapids the fireworks are launched from Mays’ Island, with great views on both sides of the river. Continue reading on reFocus... 


New perspectives

This Saturday mirrored last year’s assignments: the Great Iowa River Canoe and Kayak Race and North Liberty Fun Days. It can be easy to get lazy when you shoot the same festivals and events year after year, but I took the repetition as a challenge. Continue reading on reFocus... 



Ten games, 135 photos submitted out of 9,270 taken. Not bad for three days’ work. The boys’ state soccer tournament is one of my favorite events to cover, but I’ll admit I was worried about finding fresh images on my third time covering the event. Mother Nature helped me out a little, though, and sent some rain to Des Moines for the first day. Nothing like covering six games in a miserable drizzle to keep you on your toes. I brought a tent this time around to protect our media work table, which is otherwise exposed to the elements and obviously problematic for working on a laptop. This year saw plenty of collisions, leaping and overtime, so it was hard to narrow things down to these few favorites…  [Continue to reFocus for the full post]

School's out (for good)

With a few area schools closing their doors for good at the end of the school year, I approached the administrators with an idea to document the last week at one of the schools. Roosevelt Elementary School in Iowa City was on board, and I spent three days of their last week at the school. It’s not always easy to work in schools (release forms, access to class and events, trying to be invisible to the students..) but Roosevelt was easy to work with and the days I spent at Roosevelt were the highlight of my month. The image above is from their talent show, and led the six-picture package (!) in the paper. Continue reading this post (and see my favorite images from the project) over on reFocus.


Totally egg-cellent

I’ve been known to eat breakfast foods for all three meals in one day, so it’s no secret that I love eggs. Scrambled, fried, deviled, steamed, in a quiche/burrito/taco/bagel, cracked over pasta, crumbled over a salad, baked in a bacon “wrapper”…. So when Meredith came to me with her next food column my mouth started watering immediately: EGGS. In particular, the diversity of eggs. We all know how to scramble them and fry, but what else can you do with eggs? Head over to reFocus to see more photos (including an egg-eating farm cat), and once you get good and hungry, check out the story for recipes. (Props to Ashley at Kensington Palate for the egg+avocado idea!)


Lake day

Every now and then, N and I will go on photo field trips. Yesterday we headed out to the reservoir for a couple hours for some fresh air before coming back into town for more of Mission Creek. Spring came early to Iowa, and even though this was the mildest winter I've experienced yet, the buds on the trees are still cause for excitement.


A lot of catching up to do

My oh my. No excuses. Life happened, blogging didn't. But you know what else happened? The Gazette staff got our very own website to fill with visual goodness, complete with two (yes, TWO!) blogs: a relaunch of reFocus, and a new video blog, HighDef. A particular cause for excitement is the HUGE photo display that puts my measly 700px here to shame (maybe I'll do some retooling around here soon). Our web dev team put up with my incessant emails and visits and delivered a great home for our work. You'll also find our recent galleries (and eventually, videos. We're working on it.) To add to the fun, we have a facebook page for the whole staff, too. I'll continue posting here, but it will be more personal and freelance work, in addition to links to take you to fresh content on the new blogs, so stick around, but add those to your RSS readers too.

The image above is from a recent food shoot, with every dish using Girl Scout cookies as an ingredient. Needless to say, much of the shoot was fueled by sugar. Click over to my post on reFocus to see more photos and read about the shoot. I've been pairing up with our food writer more often lately, reawakening my interest in food photography, and it's been a ton of fun so far.